Upton Unveil Armada Park Lease Plans
Long-established Torquay SDFL club Upton Athletic last night unveiled their plans to take on the 40 year lease at Chelston’s Armada Park.
In a preliminary meeting the club, supported by Chelston Youth Club and ABCD Community Builders (who are in turn supported by the Torbay Community Development Trust) met with around forty residents and other community members at the St Peter’s Centre,
The meeting gave residents the chance to air their concerns about the plans which will see Upton Athletic developing the existing facilities and installing railings on two sides of the pitch to meet the necessary eligibility criteria for promotion to the South West Peninsula League should their first team finish in one of the two SDFL promotion spots.
“It’s going to be so beneficial for the kids. That’s what we’re doing it for.” – Joan Bastow, Upton Athletic
In a frank and open debate residents, some of whom had properties backing on to the park, grilled the club on their intentions and relayed their experiences of noise, littering and bad language from the football teams that currently hire the pitch on a Saturday and Sunday. Some residents were worried that the plans would be the ‘thin end of a wedge’ that would lead to clubhouses, alcohol licensing, widespread advertising and floodlights.
Upton Athletic reassured residents that the ground would never be suitable for the kind of set-up seen at grounds like Coach Road and Homers Heath in Newton Abbot, and that their developments would remain modest, while Nathan Quaintance of the Community Development Trust explained that a single resident club would be more accountable for their team’s behaviour than the current situation where multiple teams simply hire the pitch from the council.
Quaintance also explained that, rather than restricting public use of the field, Upton Athletic were keen to open up access to the community in the way that was originally intended when Armada Park was given to the people of Chelston. He said that the current situation saw community projects, like a proposed Chelston youth football training scheme, denied use of the pitch even though they were only used at weekends.
“Upton knew that we had a sports programme, but that we didn’t have the knowhow. Upton approached us and said that they could offer us a better youth training programme to go alongside the Chelston Youth Club we run,” Quaintance told Sport South Devon after the meeting. “Since joining with Upton we’ve been awarded a Love Sport grant. We’ve had a difficult time getting things up and running, but fingers crossed we will have a Chelston youth team if these guys get the field.”
By the end of an overall positive and constructive meeting, residents seemed to be broadly in favour of the plans but with some reservations about car parking arrangements where there was some confusion about whether the club or the council would be responsible. Residents were also understandably keen to see the fine details of the lease before committing to support the project.
“We’ve had a difficult time getting things up and running, but fingers crossed we will have a Chelston youth team if these guys get the field” – Nathan Quaintance, Torbay CDT
Upton Athletic’s Joan Bastow, aunt to former Plymouth Argyle and Upton star Darren Bastow, gave her thoughts on the outcome of the meeting: “I think it went very well, actually. I fully understand the residents’ concerns about the car parking because I would be concerned, but we need to get together and find out what’s going to be written into the lease.
“I hope it goes through because it’s going to be so beneficial for the kids. That’s what we’re doing it for, for the kids, not for us.”
The next meeting will also involve Torbay Council and you can keep informed of the actual date via the Chelston Community Group or Upton Athletic Facebook page.